The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) on Tuesday signed an agreement to exchange data and information together with knowledge and training to support agricultural trade research for evidence-based policy formulation.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two institutions aims to support policy formulation through statistical systems for applied scientific research, specifically for the agricultural sector that in 2020 contributed 9%, equivalent to almost N$16 billion, to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
At the signing ceremony, NUST Vice Chancellor (VC), Erold Naomab, said three primary areas of cooperative activities have been identified. The first of these areas aims to coordinate the collection, processing, and dissemination of agricultural statistics in a cost-effective manner to reduce duplication. Secondly, the collaboration of joint lectures and socio-economic research; and thirdly, implementing student attachment and in-service training.
Said Naomab: “In order for all stakeholders to benefit from the best possible actions arising from statistical decision-making now, and in future, it is strategically important to work collaboratively. NUST is delighted to offer technical and professional expertise and advanced technological platforms to support this undertaking. All faculties, centres and institutes are expected to benefit from this initiative based on the principle of cross-sectorial inter-disciplinary cooperation.”
The NUST VC added that specifically under this MoU, NUST undertakes the establishment of a continuous intersectoral agri-trade policy dialogue to enhance evidence-based, coordinated and efficient policy development, monitoring and evaluation.
“Uniformly, NSA will support and advise on methodological standards employed in the collection, processing and validation of secondary administrative records,” Naomab explained.
He added that NUST’s Agricultural Trade Policy Institute (ATPI) in its Faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences, officially launched a two-year training course on 17 May, titled Agricultural Trade and Policy Training and Exchange Programme for Professionals.
This training consists of 14 modules covering various topics such as Foundations of International Trade Policy, Trade Agreements, Trade-in Agriculture, International Marketing, Introduction to International Trade, and Modern Tools in International Trade Analysis, to name a few. The course was designed after a detailed stakeholder survey that took place in 2020 and targeted various role players in the agribusiness value chain.
Also speaking at Tuesday’s signing ceremony, NSA Statistician General and CEO, Alex Shimuafeni, noted that trade statistics are a catalyst for import substitution and eventually local manufacturing and job creation and job security, particularly as in 2020 Namibia imported goods worth almost N$110 billion. He emphasised that the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, the establishment of ATPI and the signing of the MoU could not have come at a better time.
“This collaboration is testimony that NSA does not collect statistics for its own but for stakeholders for evidence-based policy and decision making. As the head of the NSA, I am pleased to announce that the signing of this MoU is a testimony of our common goal of achieving the implementation of evidence-based policymaking,” said Shimuafeni.
The NSA chief added that he eagerly anticipates the development of an Agricultural Statistical Management System (ASMS) that the two institutions will develop.
“It is through a system like this that better planning and coordination can be achieved countrywide. I am confident that with a similar system like the National Housing Information System that the NSA is currently finalising together with the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, an ASMS would be developed by our two institutions, NSA and NUST,” Shimuafeni stated.